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Salt to the Sea
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Group Read Discussions > January 2018 --Salt to the Sea *SPOILERS*

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message 1: by Jasmine, Gatekeeper of Giveaways. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jasmine | 1255 comments Mod
This is the spoilers thread for Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, our 2018 group read. Happy Reading.


message 2: by Jasmine, Gatekeeper of Giveaways. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jasmine | 1255 comments Mod
I am very curious to see everyone's rating and their feelings on this book because it was not my favorite. The incredibly short chapters made it difficult for me to get attached to the characters at all. I really liked that the author shed light on an event I knew nothing about, however I feel I would have cared more had there been more character development. Emilia's death had no impact on me like it should have.

Honestly, I really liked Alfred's character in the way of it was a good character, even if he was a despicable person. I thought the author did a good job showing the way the youth of Germany could be brainwashed to betray their friends and families with the ideas of the Third Reich. I thought his story was the most thought out and even though I hated the person he represented.

This book just wasn't my cup of tea and I was disappointed since I love YA Historical fiction. I want to read the authors other book, but I am worried I will be disappointed again.


Cheryl A | 975 comments Although I haven't re-read this recently (the last time was this past summer), I've read it three times. It did take a little getting used to the short chapters, but I thought that the telling of the events from the three/four different viewpoints brought a fullness to the event that might have been missing had it just been from the one viewpoint.

The author is one of my favorite YA HF authors. Between Shades of Gray was her first and this title is a bit of a companion piece. Out of the Easy is a completely different book than Salt and Gray, but is just as interesting. The author likes to take little known chapters in history and create a story around them. I had know about the Wilhelm Gustloff before reading Salt, but just as a side note. She really brought this to light, as well as the story of the evacuation itself.


Connie (connier) | 53 comments I really didn't like the ending on this book. It seemed like we were given the day to day activity until the rescue. Then it jumped to where there were 20 years later. Also, if Emilia is with her mother how could Halinka be there as a young child? I believe Halinka made it to America with Florian and Joana. I also thought we should have been able to read the first letter from the lady in Denmark. My book only had the 2nd letter. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars, because I really didn't like the short chapters. One sentence is some cases.


A.L. Sowards | 76 comments I found the short chapters jarring at first, but then I got used to them. Once Florian, Emilia, and Joana were together it was less of an issue for me.

I ended up enjoying the book so much that I picked up Between Shades of Gray soon after reading Salt to the Sea. For those curious about that book, it has longer chapters. They're all told from Lina's POV (she happens to be Joana's cousin).

I also would have liked the 1st letter in Salt to the Sea's epilogue. And with Between Shades of Gray, I really wanted more from the epilogue. I won't spoil it, but there were a lot of things left unresolved, and I wanted to know more about how things happened after the main story was over. Of the two, there was more resolution in Salt to the Sea's epilogue. I think the amount of resolution is why I gave Salt 5 stars and Grey 4 stars.


Donna | 222 comments This one wasn't quite 5 stars for me but I rounded up to a full 5 stars for a few different reasons.

First, I'm not at all a fan of multiple first person POVs in a story. I've noticed a lot of YA writers are gravitating to that style. Since that is the approach in this book, I was pleasantly surprised that the author pulled it off. Not once did I find it annoying and I also didn't prefer one POV more than the others. They were all equally engaging and they each added depth to the story.

The short chapters weren't bothersome, because I listened to the audio .... so the shifting didn't detract from the story.

In the last month and a half, I've read a few Historical Fiction books on WWII and this one was by far my favorite. I can't wait to read another book by this author.

I liked how the story focused on the lives of young adults trying to get through the war and not so much about the war itself.


message 7: by Tkhrunner (new) - added it

Tkhrunner | 2 comments I enjoyed this book. It did take some time to get all the characters straight. The chapters were so short it made this a quick read.


Chelsea (challe232) | 3 comments I gave it 4/5.. I really loved it more than I thought I would. Emilia was an excellent character, and Alfred was incredibly interesting.


Darlene Strickland (dmstrickland) | 4 comments I loved this book but I would have liked to read more of how Florian and Joana ended up together and how they ended up in America. And what about the boy they adopted? Didn’t he have an address pinned to his jacket throughout the story? I’m wondering if they attempted to find his family.


message 10: by A.L. (new) - rated it 5 stars

A.L. Sowards | 76 comments Darlene wrote: "And what about the boy they adopted? Didn’t he have an address pinned to his jacket throughout the story? I’m wondering if they attempted to find his family."

I think the shoe poet had the address. (But I can't remember for sure, and I had to return the book to the library.)

I agree, I would have liked more of a wrap-up. Still thought it was good book though!


message 11: by Suzy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 35 comments I'm so glad this book was picked for our January discussion because it introduced me to a new-to-me author and also to a little known aspect of WWII that is very worth knowing about. I really liked this book and the way it was written. I think this might be an example of a book better experienced in audio, seeing some of your comments about the short chapters. Each of the four characters are voiced by a different narrator, so there was never confusion and the short chapters accentuated the frantic experience of these four as they approached the ship, were on the ship and dealt with the aftermath of the sinking. My heart was pounding for most of the book and I was left with tears in my eyes. I rated this 4 1/2 stars, rounded up, because I too felt the ending was a little jarring and wanted to know more of what happened in the 20 ensuing years. But for me, that is a minor complaint and I ultimately felt resolution, knowing what happened to the characters after the fact.

I did a little poking around and found that a film was made in Canada by a survivor of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. This site offers lots of information on the evacuation of East Prussia, the sinking of the ship and the movie. Fascinating! http://www.sinkingthegustloff.com/

It appears that we can watch the film online, although I haven't done that yet. I plan to! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWfIK...

To me this book offered the best of HF - a compelling story, relatable characters and introduction to historical events. I will confess, that I didn't know before/while reading it that it was categorized YA. Based on some of the recommendations in the discussion thread, I plan to read Between Shades of Gray.


Juliet Valcourt (julietvalcourt) | 14 comments I rarely read books about WWII, but I’m glad I joined in this group read. I listened on audio and the narrators really brought the story to life. Emilia’s story affected me the most and I’m heartbroken that she did not survive. After everything she had gone through, I was hoping she could have started a new life with her baby, but at least she was able to find peace with her loved ones at the end. I rated this book 4/5 for the emotional impact of the story and the unique narrative style.


Rachel (rdlevee) | 35 comments I read this book late last year and loved it. I read Between Shades of Gray by the same author first, and enjoyed it so much I decided to read Salt to Sea. I loved "Salt" even more than the author's first book. The story didn't grab me immediately, but by midway I couldn't put it down. The characters are well written and the emotional impact of the story was strong. I really came to care about the characters. Even months after finishing the book, it's still on my mind.


Lindsey | 295 comments The abrupt jump to 20 years later to conclude the story left me a little confused. I had to read that letter a few times to get the hang of what was going on. Emilia's chapters just didn't have the emotional pull that the others did so her death appeared less significant than others (the shoemaker didn't even get his own POV chapters but his death really got to me). Otherwise, I felt this was a well-written story and appreciated the attention it gave to a lesser-known tragedy of WWII.


message 15: by A.L. (new) - rated it 5 stars

A.L. Sowards | 76 comments Lindsey wrote: "the shoemaker didn't even get his own POV chapters but his death really got to me."

I loved that character!


Elissa Matthews | 38 comments I gave this book three stars, mostly because it had such potential and then it kept slipping away. I didn't mind the short chapters and the multiple points of view at first, but as I started to get more involved in the characters, I started to resent continually getting ripped away to start up with another one. I too would have liked the shoe poet to have his own set of chapters in the mix.


message 17: by Lillian (new) - added it

Lillian Martin I enjoyed this selection. I never would have found it and this is the reason I joined the book group. I usually cannot stand the alternating POV in books but because the entries were so short, it was a rather entertaining and novel approach to writing a book. Almost like diary entries.

I got very attached to the characters and as I read on, started to dread the ending, because I knew what was coming.

I agree that there could have been more entries at the end, so there could be more information about their moving to America, a little more about the rescue, etc. and maybe some flashbacks.

My grandfather and grandmother escaped Nazi Germany (he to Brazil, her to England) but their parents did not and they perished. I often think about them and wonder. It is all so sad and need to be remembered.


Chelsea | 3 comments Lindsey wrote: "The abrupt jump to 20 years later to conclude the story left me a little confused. I had to read that letter a few times to get the hang of what was going on"

I felt the same way, and to echo what others said, I wish we were able to see the first letter. Honestly I would love to see a sequel to see how Joana and Florian got to America with the 2 kids!

Despite the somewhat jarring and rushed jump to the end, I enjoyed this book overall. The short chapters didn't bother me and I really liked reading from the different POVs. I thought the author created intriguing characters and putting someone like Alfred in the mix kept it interesting. Also, as usual I was a sucker for the Joana and Florian love story. It relied on some cliches but it was done well.

I also enjoyed reading about all the research that went in to writing this book, and the personal family connection the author has with it.


message 19: by NancyJ (last edited Jan 26, 2018 12:11AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) It took me a while to get past the slow beginning of the book. The audio version sounded like a high school play with the different young voices, and I had to wait for the hard copy. I was finally getting into some of the stories, but Alfred's letters were so ridiculous, I just wanted to speed read to get past them or pick up another book instead. I started wondering why the author created Albert in the first place. How many negative characteristics could she put into one character?!! It started to feel racist against the Germans. Most of the victims on this boat were German civilians I think, and it seemed unfair that they were so poorly represented. I would have liked to hear more of their stories. I loved the Shoe poet character and the little boy, so that helped a lot. I would have liked to hear more about how Joana and Florian got through the rescue and started their new lives. I agree with others that the ending felt very rushed. (I can imagine the author struggling to meet a deadline. ) I wish the last few chapters were written or edited with more care. After rereading it though, I thought Emilia's last chapter (in heaven) was quite lovely.


message 20: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen I really enjoyed this. The short chapters didn't bother me, and all the characters were so compelling. I'll be reading more of this author.


message 21: by Anna (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anna Dietz | 2 comments Man I loved this book. It’s probably one of my favorite reads in the last 6 months. I loved the addition of Alfred. His character was so interesting and reading his perspective was great. I liked how fast the book moved and the short chapters. I thought it was just a wonderful novel!


message 22: by N.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

N.D. (ndvenus) I'm so glad I read this book after reading Between Shades of Grey. Made it all the more compelling.


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